Best Comic StoreCthulhu, manga, and Pia the cat, too

Comic Relief

The problem with most comic-book stores is that they’re meant only for comic-book fanatics. Owners want you in there just long enough to pick up a copy of whatever superhero rag you ordered last month, and if you don’t already know the name of every Spider-Man villain ever, good luck getting anything more helpful than a contemptuous sneer from the staff. But Comic Relief is different. A comic store that’s run like a bookstore, it’s a friendly, welcoming place, where you can pop in off the street to browse through an incredible array of comics, art books, screenplays, and posters — as well as novelty toys such as Sandman action figures and so-creepy-they’re-cute stuffed Cthulhu dolls. Here, you find your traditional pulp superheroes alongside weird underground zines, vintage postcards collections, and even medieval witch-hunting manuals. If you’re not sure what you want, store staff can diagnose almost any taste with a few simple questions. Comic fans will enjoy the varied selection, while novices will appreciate the store’s friendly atmosphere and logical layout — big cardboard signs overhead pointing you straight to sections such as “Alternative,” “Manga,” and “Fringe Culture.” Visitors will also want to pet Pia, the world’s sweetest store cat, often found dozing across the stacks.

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